Get a taste for adventure exploring the region’s food bowl on a drive around the Atherton Tablelands and Cassowary Coast.
Low food miles, paddock to plate and farm to fork – they are the buzz words of the food world and philosophies easily embraced in Tropical North Queensland where our food bowl is literally on our back doorstep.
A visit to Rusty’s Markets or any of the farmers’ markets throughout the region reveals an array of Instagram-worthy tropical fruits, leafy vegetables and herbs.
What is also exciting about our region’s food is that our farmers and chefs are increasingly turning local produce into table-ready products like smoked barramundi, cured meats, flavoured nuts and cheese.
A drive around the Atherton Tablelands and Cassowary Coast takes in several of the restaurant’s suppliers including Wondaree Macadamia Nuts and Shaylee Strawberries where you can pick your own strawberries.
Australia’s largest exporter of Arabica coffee and the country’s biggest papaya grower, Skybury is the perfect place to experience not just a great coffee, but the clever use of the farm’s produce in its menu.
The Coffee Braised Beef Burger features expresso barbecue sauce on slow-braised local brisket with ginger papaya pickle, oven-dried Skybury tomatoes, caramelised onion and a side of green papaya slaw with crispy smashed potato. Or try their signature dish, Chicken Korma with Green Papaya Salad cooked in a ripe papaya and korma curry paste and accompanied by Skybury green papaya salad, banana and coconut, pappadams, Skybury papaya relish and rice.
MT UNCLE DISTILLERY
If you fancy treating your tastebuds to the best rum in the world, head to Mt Uncle Distillery, who recently won Upsider’s Best Rum in the World title. If rum isn’t your tipple of choice, sip on a range of liquers and spirits including gin, whisky and vodka. The distillery sources ingredients and fruits from the Mt Uncle farm and neighbouring farms on the Atherton Tablelands.
Head to the tasting room to sample some of the beverages before exploring the beautiful grounds to meet donkeys, alpacas and peacocks.
Gallo isn’t called “dairyland” for nothing. This cafe and working farm delivers on its dairy promise and offers an array of gourmet cheeses and hand-crafted chocolates. Head to the on-site cafe for lunch or pick up some chocolate and cheese to take home from the shop.
Big kids and little kids alike will love getting up close to baby animals in the Animal Nursery. You can even catch the cows being milked twice daily with the farm’s milking demonstrations.
MUNGALLI BIODYNAMIC DAIRY
Mungalli Biodynamic is the region’s local milk producer and offers a range of organic products free from artificial fertilisers, pesticides and growth hormones. Relax on the verandah at the cafe and enjoy stunning views of the Johnston River Gorge as you sample some gourmet treats.
COFFEE WORKS, MAREEBA
Head to coffee works in Mareeba for a caffeine fix with a difference. Stock up on gourmet chocolates and grab some beans to enjoy at home.
SPEEWAH COUNTRY TAVERN, SPEEWAH
Fuel up with a fantastic feed at Speewah Country Tavern then hike the Douglas and Smith Walking Tracks.
SPRING BEAN, TOLGA
Spring Bean at Tolga is well known for its $10 Tradie Deal with a coffee and a jaffle, while macaroons and coffee are often the choice on weekends.
OUR PLACE, YUNGABURRA
Check out locally owned and run Our Place in Yungaburra for a unique blend of Australian and Mediterranean cuisine. The cafe sources local products from the tablelands and is open for both lunch and dinner.
CHARLEY’S CHOCOLATE, MISSION BEACH
You can head to Charley’s Chocolate at Mission Beach to see how the farm’s cacao is transformed into chocolate on a tour or call ahead for an appointment at the Broken Nose Vanilla farm gate shop in Mirriwinni for the heady scent of vanilla on its own or in the likes of caramelised balsamic vinegar.
Call in at the Babinda Bakery for a pie and an iced latte before heading to the Babinda Boulders to walk the trail to the Devil’s Pool.
MENA CREEK HOTEL
Grab an Aussie burger or a ‘parmy’ at the Mena Creek Hotel before exploring Paronella Park.
Cinnamon scrolls and cream buns are the morning tea favourites from the Mourilyan Bakery for a picnic and cassowary spotting at Etty Bay.
SAPORE DI ITALIA, INNISFAIL
Enjoy a taste of Italy in the Cassowary Coast with a visit to Sapare Di Italia in Innisfail. Snap up a great deal with one of the lunch specials or indulge in a tasty pasta dinner.
MISSION BEACH TAVERN
Mission Beach Tavern is for open daily for some classic pub grub. Or if you’re feeling more al-fresco, get a takeaway for a beach picnic overlooking Dunk Island.
Bingil Bay Cafe
This quirky, colourful cafe is family owned and packs a punch when it comes to both funky decor and food. Tuck into everything from pizza to laksa in the beautiful garden seating.